Out-of-hours providers should benchmark GPs

Foundation report calls for GPs to be compared on performance and productivity.

Dr Fay Wilson: 'We find it useful. If we find it useful, other people might' (Photograph: J Heath Lancy)

Out-of-hours providers should benchmark individual GPs' performance and productivity against their peers, the Primary Care Foundation has said.

Giving individuals breakdowns of their performance and productivity would help iron out differences in services and improvement performance over all, it believes.

The foundation analysed data from 96 out-of-hours services across England.

It found that demand on services was consistent and predictable and that a small number of services perform consistently well. Other services fall short of meeting quality standards and consistently prioritising cases.

In a report published last week, the foundation argued that variations in the performance of different members of staff was likely to be an important cause of such failings.

'The variation between clinical staff is not closely managed, so that the service performs well when some staff are on duty and less well when others are working,' the report said.

'Because clinicians want to do a good job, they value comparison with their peers,' it added.

'We strongly support the initiative by some software providers to make it much easier for services to feedback productivity information (from a large sample of cases) to individual clinicians (as part of a rounded audit process that also looks in detail at a smaller sample of cases).'

The BADGER out-of-hours co-operative in Birmingham already runs a similar benchmarking scheme, Dr Fay Wilson, chairwoman of the scheme, said.

Its scheme sends quarterly breakdowns of performance, giving each GP details of their performance and comparing it with the average across the co-operative.

Dr Wilson said that such benchmarking helped her look at outliers on particular measures and reassured her about performance across the co- operative.

'We find it useful,' Dr Wilson said. 'If we find it useful, other people might.'

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